Book edited by Craig T. Boddington and Peter Flack (Safari Press, 2004, 606 pages); Review by Ken Bailey
When James Mellon’s book African Hunter was published in 1975, it was hailed immediately as a classic, a thorough and contemporary guide to hunting Africa. But, in Mellon’s own words from 2003, “My book is no longer relevant to conditions in today’s Africa.”
Enter Craig Boddington and Peter Flack, two well-respected hunters and writers. They took up the challenge and compiled what is undoubtedly the most comprehensive book dedicated to hunting Africa in the 21st century. African Hunter II builds on what Mellon started and created what Mellon suggested will be, “the standing work in its field for decades to come.”
The 600-page book is an engaging amalgam of encyclopedia, guidebook and captivating treasury of hunting tales from across all walks of Africa. Twenty-four countries are featured; for each, the editors provide a summary of the hunting regions, the game animals available, and a brief overview of the history, geography, climate and basic national facts and economic statistics. The primary species hunted in each country are covered in reasonable detail, providing hunters considering a safari some inside knowledge that will help in their planning. Clear, simple and beautifully-created maps accompany each country chapter. Once the “facts” have been covered for each country, readers are treated to some fine contemporary magazine-style writing, compelling tales of hunting in the region, some previously published, but all written by accomplished hunter/writers. In fact, if you had no interest whatever in the “guide” portions of the book, you could spend many rewarding evenings just soaking in the many well-crafted tales of African safari hunting.
There are a few add-on chapters designed to assist both the first-timer and the safari veteran alike. As might be expected with Boddington at the helm, included is a thorough overview of rifle/cartridge combinations. Other chapters provide guidance for booking your safari and what medical considerations you should be thinking about before you go. And from cover to cover, this book is well-saturated with wonderful photography of the game, the people and the places.
By their very nature all guidebooks have a shelf life, and this is no exception. Some of what was reflective of the African safari world in 2004 may not be exactly the same today. Notwithstanding that, it’s still a very relevant overview today, and the sheer volume of information about hunting in Africa makes this a treasure that will last a long time. In fact, when they eventually take away all my stuff and put me in that home, this is likely to be the one book I keep at my bedside.